USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has committed $139,000 in exclusive funding to help Delaware farmers in the Clear Brook-Nanticoke River watershed make improvements on their land to improve water quality.
Through the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI), farmers can invest in voluntary conservation practices to reduce the runoff of nutrients, sediment and pathogens from agricultural land that can flow into waterways. Now in its fifth year, NWQI builds on efforts to target high-impact conservation in areas such as the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
The goal of NWQI is to concentrate conservation practices within select watersheds to maximize gains in the effort to improve water quality. Eligible practices include nutrient management, manure storage structures, composters, no-till, cover crops and filter strips.
The Clear Brook-Nanticoke Watershed is located in the western region of Sussex County between Bridgeville and Seaford and is part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Of the 24,000 acres that make up the watershed, 14,000 acres or 60 percent are in agricultural land. The watershed is on the State of Delaware’s list of impaired watersheds due to excess nutrients. State and federal agencies have been extensively monitoring water quality in select areas of the watershed and are looking into new strategies to address agricultural related water quality issues.
NRCS accepts applications year-round but makes funding selections at application cut-off deadlines. Producers with applications in before April 15 will have a higher chance of application approval as funding is limited. An additional application cutoff date is set for May 20, 2016.
The National Water Quality Initiative is an initiative under NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program. For more information on NWQI, contact your local USDA Service Center. In Sussex County, call 302-856-3990, ext. 3. Additional information on all NRCS programs and services is available online at www.de.nrcs.usda.gov.
RCS in partnership with conservation districts work with producers to implement voluntary conservation practices on privately-owned agricultural and forest lands.